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This week in tech history: iPads go on sale, Instagram comes to Android, and the Nokia N95

This week in tech history: iPads go on sale, Instagram comes to Android, and the Nokia N95


April 3rd, 2017

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Nokia N95 slider
Nokia N95 slider

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the launch of the iPad. It was on this very day in 2010 when thousands of people lined up to buy a tablet that promised a new kind of personal computing, a vision Bill Gates first demonstrated 10 years prior. The iPad reviews were mixed, with few in the tech press willing to predict another home run like the iPod and iPhone before it. Most saw potential, even if they couldn't see the device’s immediate appeal beyond a media consumption device.

Here’s Joshua Topolsky's take at the time:

"The buyer of an iPad is one of two people, the first is someone who sees not just the present, but the potential of a product like the iPad... and believes in and is excited about that potential. This is also a person who can afford what amounts to a luxury item. The second is an individual who simply doesn't need to get that much work done, and would prefer their computing experience to be easier, faster, and simpler."

And here's Walt Mossberg's

"All in all, however, the iPad is an advance in making more-sophisticated computing possible via a simple touch interface on a slender, light device. Only time will tell if it’s a real challenger to the laptop and netbook."

Well, it's been seven years and the PC is still alive and kicking, though shipments have been steadily declining in the face of smartphone and tablet sales. Yet after making a frenetic start, selling 300,000 units on the first day, iPad sales have also been in decline for several quarters just like tablets in general. Both PC and tablet sales seem to have stemmed their declines recently, stabilizing at current levels of about 260 million PCs sold in 2016 compared to 175 million tablets. In other words, lots and lots of people are still driving “trucks” per Steve Jobs’ post-PC analogy.

Android's crummy cameras

It was five years ago today that Instagram finally came to Android. At the time, many of the 30 million app users on their iPhones worried that Android's crummy cameras would ruin the service. Instagram has since been purchased by Facebook and now claims to have more than 600 million users. Oh, and an Android phone now takes better photos than the best iPhone.

Ten years ago this week we saw Google announce a TV ads trial because "users spend a lot of time watching TV so improving the relevance of advertising information on that medium is important." We now have Android TV and an entire generation of humans that never watch it because for the them, “TV” means watching YouTube on a smartphone. 

Lumia 900 pink
Lumia 900.
Image: Nokia

Looking back 10 years and we’ll also find Om Malik offering 12 tips before you buy a Nokia N95, two months before the original iPhone would go on sale. Five years ago this week saw the first reviews of the Lumia 900, a Windows Phone phone launched in partnership with Microsoft. The world's largest maker of cellphones now exists as a Nokia logo sold for use on HMD Global Oy phones. 

Ten years ago today we saw the first shoe drop when EMI decided to sell DRM-free music in iTunes, a copy-protection battle that would eventually see the entire music industry capitulate. The DRM-free tracks cost $1.29 each compared to the regular $0.99 price, and could be copied and played on any device. It was a victory for consumers. Now everyone subscribes to DRM-protected music streams like Spotify and Apple Music because they made it so damn easy to use. Oh well.